When you were born, you were the apple of your parents' eyes. You were a miniature Mommy and Daddy loved that about you.

When you were one, Daddy bought you a teddy bear, blue with green bead eyes, but you never saw it, because Mommy took it away from him before he could give it to you. She swore she would always go through your presents before you opened them, and it's a good thing she did, or else you would have gotten a toy more suited for a little boy than a little girl. Little girls didn't like blue, she said.

When you were two, you came home from a trip to the park with Daddy and had two skinned knees. Mommy hit the roof when she saw that you had torn your brand new white tights, and sent you to bed without supper, but it was okay because it was for your own good. Daddy got in trouble for letting you play too rough.

When you were three, a new little girl moved in across the street. Her name was Penny, but Mommy wouldn't let you play dolls with her because she didn't have a Daddy, and we all know what little girls with no Daddy turn out like, she said.

When you were four, Mommy and Daddy were screaming at each other in the living room when you came inside from watching Penny play in the dirt (you didn't join her, because good little girls keep their dresses clean). You asked what they were screaming about but Mommy wouldn't tell you and she wouldn't even let Daddy talk to you. It was the first time you saw Mommy cry.

When you were five, your Daddy didn't live with you anymore. Mommy said it was because he was a bad man, and sometimes you have memories of him coming into your room at night and comforting you in your bed after nightmare but you don't tell Mommy because what if it's your fault that Daddy was bad?

When you were six, you asked Mommy if you could play with Penny now that you didn't have a Daddy either. She had a long talk with you that day about how the Von Tussles were "high class" and didn't associate with anyone below them. You didn't really understand, but she finally explained it to you in a way that you could: you were better than Penny because your dresses were nicer and you were prettier. You though Penny could be pretty, too, if her Mommy let her wear dresses that weren't handmade out of old tablecloths.

When you were seven, you were crowned Little Miss Baltimore, and your Mommy was so proud that you were following in her footsteps. One day, she said, a handsome boy will fall in love with you, and he will treat you like a princess. Mommy always tells you that you are a princess, and today you start to believe her.

When you were eight, Penny Pingleton waved to you from across the street, like she used to, but you stuck your nose up and ignored her. When you turned back around she had gone inside, and you felt powerful, and decided to use your prettiness as a weapon.

When you were nine, another little girl moved in across the street, next door to Penny. She was pudgy and made friends with Penny right away, which made you mad. You couldn't figure out why anyone would want to be friends with her when they could be friends with you. You told Mommy this and she said that it was a good thing that little Turnblad girl didn't want to be your friend, because being seen with that poor pudgy girl could ruin your image. You thought about that for a while, and realised that Mommy was always right about this sort of thing, so from now on you'd go to her about anything social.

When you were ten, Mommy bought you your own make-up kit, a miniature version of the one she bought from Avon for herself last Christmas. She didn't pretend it was from Santa, because big girls knew that Santa wasn't real. She told you that when you were eight, but you didn't tell her that you knew Santa wasn't real since your first Christmas without Daddy.

When you were eleven, you asked Mommy where Daddy was, if he had stopped being bad and if he was going to come back. Mommy hit you that day, for the first time ever. She said that she never wanted to hear you talk about Daddy again, did you want to end up like him? She brought up everything bad you had ever done and said that if you even thought about Daddy then you would be in more trouble than you ever were for all those times combined. That night you heard her crying and vowed never to think about Daddy again.

When you were twelve, you were winning pageants all the time. Boys started to call on you but Mommy said you weren't ready, and although you whined about it, it was fine by you. You didn't think boys were worth your time.

When you were thirteen, Mommy became producer of a TV show called the Corny Collins Show. It was a show that featured teenage dancers and Mommy wanted you to be the star but even though she was the producer they wouldn't let you dance on the show. You were pretty, they said, but they wanted teenagers who could dance. Mommy yelled at you that night, calling you clumsy and she signed you up for ballet lessons the next day.

When you were fourteen you started high school and Penny Pingleton and Tracy Turnblad were in your class. You tried to switch classes but even with Mommy's influence the school wouldn't let you. You were, however, put on the Corny Collins Show. You couldn't dance any better but Mommy was more powerful at the station this year than she was last year, and so you got on it anyway. You weren't the star yet, but it was only a matter of time, Mommy said.

When you were fifteen the school got a new gym teacher. She hated the boys and asked that the girls call her by her first name. One day after class you were in the showers when you heard a noise and saw her watching you. You knew she was bad like Daddy was bad but you didn't tell anyone because what if it was your fault like it was with Daddy? The next day you overheard Penny talking to Tracy about the new gym teacher and how creepy she was. Tracy said she didn't notice, and Penny seemed like she wanted to say more but Tracy interrupted her to talk about the Corny Collins Show. You knew the Tracy didn't like you, but her dislike was far more evident when she talked about the dancers on the show, and the topic she returned to most was what a spoiled princess you were and that you couldn't even dance. Penny said she didn't think you were that bad and that made you feel funny inside, and the next day after school you cornered her on the blacktop after everyone had left. You asked her what she meant about the new gym teacher and she said that she was creepy. You asked her why she thought that and she wouldn't say anymore about it. You think you may have scared her so you let her run home in tears.

When you were sixteen you still hadn't told anyone about your encounter with the gym teacher, but one day you enter the showers and find her touching Penny, and it makes you mad, madder than you thought you'd be. You knew about rape and violation but Mommy said only black people or bad men did it, and the gym teacher wasn't black or a man (daddy!). You can't move or make a noise but Penny notices you somehow anyway, looks into your eyes and it touches something in you and you run. The gym teacher didn't see you. You still don't tell anyone but this time you feel bad about it.

When you were seventeen, Link Larkin gave you his council member's ring and you two were going steady. You showed it off all the time on the show but something wasn't right and you both knew it. You tried to control him like Mommy told you but he ended up falling in love with that Tracy Turnblad girl and you didn't hate her for it like you though you should. Somehow you all end up in jail and Mommy finally talks about Daddy again, calls him a loser and a pervert and finally you realised what happened when you were little and you vow to think of it like you never had a Daddy. At the voting for Miss Teenage Baltimore Penny Pingleton shows up with Tracy even thought Tracy was supposed to still be in jail, and while Tracy is still fat and unnatractive, Penny somehow got pretty. She gives you a look and it's not a mean or pitying look like everyone else is giving you, and it makes you tingly like you won the contest even though you didn't. After everything is over and Tracy's mommy comes out of the huge bottle of Ultra-Clutch Hairspray there is a lot of dancing and you see that Penny can dance really well now, and it makes you feel small and like everything you've done in life isn't worth much, but then Penny sees you and pulls you into the dance with her, and she's smiling at you and encouraging you and you think maybe it's ok that you can't dance, and that you didn't win the crown, because now she's kissing you and it's better than Link and better than getting a new dress and when you kiss her back you think: maybe Mommy was right about girls with no Daddy... but maybe it's not so bad since neither of you had them.